Returning to Chicago as nominees for the third time, Eventide Oyster Co. chefs at last nabbed a James Beard Award Monday night. Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley took to the podium during the swank ceremony to be crowned best chefs Northeast.
The talented duo join the ranks of Portland’s lauded chefs Sam Hayward of Fore Street and Rob Evans of Duckfat, who took home the same title from the New York-based foundation in 2004 and 2009. The highest honor in the food world instantly rockets them to star chef status putting Eventide on par with stalwart Maine restaurants like Primo in Rockland, whose chef Melissa Kelly is a two-time Beard winner.
Since opening their bustling Middle Street oyster bar in 2012, the Eventide co-chefs and co-owners have received endless accolades. At the high-end, livestream ceremony held at the Lyric Opera House, Taylor gave a shoutout to co-owner and general manager Arlin Smith, calling the award “33 percent yours.”
Wiley honored the “amazing crews back in Portland, Maine at Eventide Oysters, Hugos and Honey Paw,” the trifecta the trio own under the Big Tree Hospitality Group.
This is the first time in years a Maine chef has received a Beard — the equivalent to the Academy Awards of culinary culture. They bested every chef in New England, creating a smooth runway for their second Eventide Oyster Co. expected to open this summer in Boston’s Fenway Park neighborhood.
Portland’s Allagash Brewing Company owner Rob Tod was also up for a James Beard this year, but lost out to Dogfish Head’s CEO Sam Calagione, named the country’s most outstanding beer professional. The Delaware brewer mentioned Tod in his speech, calling him “my brother in beer.”
Another oyster outfit, New York’s legendary Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, received an award for restaurant design. Big night for bivalves all around.